Tennessee cities blocked in push to ease marijuana penalties

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed legislation stripping Nashville and Memphis of ordinances to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession.

Haslam on Wednesday signed the bill passed by the Republican-led legislature, bucking the trend by states and cities nationwide to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession.

Haslam’s office has said he’s deferring to the legislature.

The cities gave police the option to issue minor citations for carrying small amounts of marijuana. It’s rarely been used.

Through late March, Nashville police issued 39 marijuana civil citations and 963 state misdemeanor simple possession criminal citations since the ordinance took effect in September.

Memphis issued one civil citation since passing its ordinance in October. Memphis suspended the option after a November attorney general opinion said such ordinances conflict with state law.